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"Broots!" Miss Parker called as she entered his hole.
"Yes, Miss Parker?" he asked, nervously wiping at the coffee that he had spilled when she came in.
"I want you to find every scrap of information on a new member of our team, some girl named Ava," she ground out through gritted teeth.
"Yes, Miss Parker."
"And how are you coming with that information on the real Project Gemini?"
"Um, I found a lot of interesting stuff. Most of this is thanks to my friend Max down in file storage."
"Which one was that again?" Miss Parker asked, rubbing her thumb and forefinger over the bridge of her nose, trying to keep get rid of her now massive headache.
"You know, the one with the clicking dentures. He’s always griping about how he can’t eat anything and-"
"I got it, Broots! What’d you find?"
"Um, apparently these two girls were born at The Centre and then shipped off to some foster family. It appears that they wanted to study what would happen if twins as gifted as they are were separated from each other after a few years together."
"Mmm, well, keep searching. And be sure to be on the look-out for any leads on Jarod," With that final order she turned and exited the room, planning to head back to her office and have some Advil and vodka. On her way, she bumped into the one person she did not want to see.
"Hello, Miss Parker," Ava said, smiling at her.
"Mmph." Miss Parker just kept on walking, determined not to let the day get any worse.
"I think I may have found a lead on Jarod!" Ava called after her retreating back. Miss Parker stopped instantly and turned to face the newest member of her group.
Miss Parker groaned and walked up to the girl. "How did you find this out?"
"I have my methods," was the only answer Ava would give her. She couldn’t let Miss Parker catch on to her true motives for joining the team; Mr. Parker and her current handler would not be happy if she did.
"Wonderful," Miss Parker replied, rolling her eyes at the evasive statement. "Get the jet ready, we leave in an hour. And make sure that Broots and Sydney are ready as well."
"Okay!" Ava responded, faking exuberance and heading back the way she came.
"Great," Miss Parker mumbled, massaging her temples. She soon followed Ava down the same corridor to her office. She definitely needed that vodka and Advil now.
"Okay, this is all the information I could find on your sister so far," Jarod said to the blonde standing next to him. He picked up the freshly-printed papers and handed them to her, watching as she flipped through all the information.
"Thank you," she said sincerely before heading over to the chair situated in the corner of the room.
"You’re welcome," he responded, but she was oblivious, having already focused all her attention on the papers she held in her hands.
Jarod sighed and got up and stretched. He had spent the past two hours in front of the computer, hacking into The Centre’s mainframe several times to get the required information for this woman. He had no clue as to who she was, since she still hadn’t told him her name, only her sister’s. All he knew was that her family had been ripped apart by The Centre just like his was, and he wanted to do everything possible to put that family back together again.
He grabbed a water bottle out of the fridge and sat down in front of the computer again to continue searching. He had only been able to find a few references to the name she had given, but each one was filled with references to numerous projects. The one that stuck out the most to him was the reference to Project Gemini. It was all the motivation he needed to perform a more thorough search immediately.
He had relinquished the information to her with barely a quick scan of it. He was far more interested in finding out whom and what she was.
He began to hack deeper into The Centre, the eerie calm that always came when he used his abilities washing over him. Finally, after several minutes of tedious work, he came across the files relating to Project Gemini.
He nearly gasped aloud in shock. What he was reading couldn’t be true, and yet it was. He now could explain the feeling of familiarity that had haunted him from the moment he laid eyes on this mysterious stranger.
She was Faith, or at least another version of her. They had cloned the little girl that had been so, so sick when he and Parker came across her with the help of Angelo.
He snuck a glance at her. She was deeply enthralled by the information he had given her, and so was oblivious to his piercing gaze. That is what she would have looked like had she not been so terribly ill; had she not died well before her time. He almost dared not believe it, but this was The Centre, and anything was possible.
He looked back at the screen and noted that there had been a recent addition to the file dated a little over a year ago. With interest, he clicked on it.
The update was just a copy of a memo stating that the twin’s handlers had changed. Andrea was now being handled by Mr. Lyle, while Ava was being handled by Mr. Cox. He still wasn’t sure which girl was which, but he had a feeling Andrea was the girl sitting a short distance from him. Her mood just seemed to fit with the form of control Lyle favored. He probably had found an extraordinary number of ways to torture this girl with promises of family and escape, therefore keeping her in a constant state of suffering servitude.
Which meant that her sister was Ava, and was controlled (They may call it “handled” in the files, but Jarod knew the truth of what they were doing.) by the mysterious Mr. Cox. Despite all of his searches, he had been able to turn up nary a droplet of information on this man. It was as if he had just appeared out of thin air and dropped into their lives, then just kind of stuck to the shadows and ignored everybody. He hadn’t even heard anything about the man in at least eight months, possibly longer. And yet, here he was, suddenly popping up right in front of him at such an unexpected moment, like a crazed jack-in-the-box.
He had a bad feeling about all of this. If he could help it, he would like very much to not step on Mr. Cox’s toes, but he also knew the man needed to be stopped, especially if he was in control of this woman’s sister. Even though he knew Faith had been harmless—just a little girl suffering from a horrible disease—and of no real interest to The Centre, he also knew that they had a way of twisting even the most innocent of people. If this woman had been twisted by The Centre, then the project would need to be stopped or even destroyed, much like SL-27.
How to go about that, though, he had no idea.
"Mr. Parker, are you sure that was a wise decision?" Raines wheezed to his superior.
"Are you questioning my authority, Raines?" Mr. Parker demanded of the invalid in front of him.
"I believe I have every right to," Raines growled back at Mr. Parker.
"Then perhaps you would like to end up in Renewal Wing," Mr. Parker ground out, sending an icy glare at Raines. As soon as the words left Mr. Parker’s mouth, Raines felt a slight fear build up in him, though he would never show it. He returned the glare and left, determined not to let his prized project get into the wrong hands. Already it had been put under the supervision of two people he believed to be wholly inadequate and incompetent, if recent events meant anything, for the job. Now they were both assigned to this travesty!
Raines had the twins do some rather deplorable things in the last twenty years, but not even he had been willing to order them to do anything of this magnitude. Now Mr. Parker was usurping his power (what little he had left, that was) and had not only given each girl a different handler a little over a year ago, but then he released them fully, which Raines had never been willing to do (The girls were far too volatile for the outside world, much like Kyle had been.), and sent them off to do personal missions.
And now. . .this.
Perhaps it was time Raines regained some of his power, even if it meant another needed to lose it. He had his own mission for his girls.
Now he just needed a way to contact them.
“Syd!” the man called out from behind him, scurrying up to him. Sydney turned around and waited for the younger man to continue.
Broots’ voice dropped to a lower whisper, and he leaned in closer to Sydney. “Do you know about the latest revelation of Project Gemini?”
“Yes,” Sydney replied in an equally low tone. He had been made aware of it when he ran into Parker earlier. She had informed him, in a rather unpleasant tone, that they were going to Sacramento. He had immediately noticed that she was not feeling well and had asked after her health. She replied, telling him everything they had learned thus far. Same old song and dance.
“Well, I found out some more and. . . Sydney, you’re never going to believe this! The twins are actually clones of Faith!”
The news hit Sydney like a tree on a house, and he actually had to remind himself to breathe. Clones of Faith! The truth of this would be a sizable blow to Miss Parker. The knowledge that it wasn’t her that had been cloned but her adoptive sister would just be another addition to the list of betrayals she had suffered. Sydney, after all these years and all these betrayals, feared for her sanity.
“My God. . .” Sydney said slowly, the news still reverberating in his brain. “Does Miss Parker know yet?”
“No, I haven’t gotten a chance to tell her. I was hoping to tell her on the plane, but as it turns out Ava is gonna be along as well.”
“Why does that matter?” Sydney asked in confusion, his brow crinkling.
“Because Ava is one of the twins!” Broots exclaimed eagerly, albeit quietly, obviously glad to be sharing this information with another.
With that revelation, everything seemed to fall into place for Sydney. He knew she looked vaguely familiar, though if anyone had asked him he would have been unable to tell him or her why. Now he knew. And he also knew the danger that it posed.
“Broots, do you realize just how dangerous these two can be? If they have the same abilities as Faith. . . ” Sydney trailed off, allowing the information to sink in. Both he and Broots knew what the girl had been capable of, and if The Centre had indeed managed to clone her and make those abilities stable. . . . The thought was too horrible to continue.
“My God! And at least one of them was brought in to help capture Jarod, but who knows what her true mission is!” Broots exclaimed worriedly. “Sydney, we need to tell Miss Parker not only this but the truth about Faith!” They had both decided to withhold information from their boss about her sister. When they had discovered it, she was still in a fragile state, recovering from everything that had happened so quickly to her. By the time she was well enough there were more pressing secrets to be revealed.
“I know, but we can’t just yet. I think we need to learn as much as we can about these two as quickly as possible.”
“Well, it’ll have to wait,” Broots said in a low tone once again, his eyes darting to something or someone beyond Sydney’s head. “I think we’re going to Sacramento.”
“It’s good to know you at least sometimes listen to me,” Miss Parker said, coming up to the duo. Without waiting for a response, she turned to Sydney and said, “Are you ready to go?”
“Of course,” Sydney replied amiably.
“Good, then let’s go!” a cheery voice from behind Broots declared. Broots nearly jumped a foot at the sound of her voice, while Miss Parker merely closed her eyes in irritation. This was going to be a long trip.
“Yes, let’s,” Sydney supplied, smiling widely.
The group made its way to the jet in complete silence, no one daring to utter a word. When they got onto the jet, Ava had for some reason decided to seat herself next to Miss Parker, an act that only served to strain Parker’s already frayed nerves even more.
Miss Parker did not like this latest addition to the group, and had a childish hope that if she just ignored Ava she would simply just disappear or go away. Although, Miss Parker had to admit, the girl was proving slightly useful.
She had come up with a solid lead on Jarod, though she wouldn’t say how she had found out about this lead, citing her “unnamed sources” instead. She had also managed to actually find both Broots and Sydney when they were ready to leave, a task that normally would have taken Miss Parker a good ten to fifteen minutes to accomplish, since the two were almost never anywhere to be seen when needed. Both had then eagerly tagged along, especially in Broots’ case. She had a feeling that Broots had finally found a new object of his attraction in this latest addition to their team.
She smiled slightly at this thought. Maybe now Broots would stop pining after her, which was a very good thing. Sometimes she almost felt bad for not returning his affections, especially after everything he’d been through in the last six months or so. Besides being left on the side of the road by Jarod--which still amazed her to this day, he had also managed to get lost for nearly a month out in the middle of nowhere. He eventually found his way back home to his relieved daughter and coworkers, but it was soon revealed that when he was left on the road he had only been a few miles from Blue Cove itself, but somehow had wandered off into the surrounding states, finally making a loop back into Delaware.
He claimed that he had been unable to make contact, but Miss Parker often found herself wondering if perhaps he had simply cracked under the strain of the last few years and had just wandered around like a vagrant, not entirely knowing what it was he was doing. With The Centre, anything was possible.
That line of thought brought her back to the recent discovery made by Broots. There might be two other versions of her running around out there doing God knows what. The thought was terrifying. She now thought she knew exactly how Jarod had felt when he found out about his own clone.
She had to admit that, if she really was cloned, she had no idea what she would do. She had been expecting it for some time, so her reaction would be fairly blasť, but what would she actually do?
That, she realized, was a very good question.
Seated next to Miss Parker, Ava had a pretty good hold on the entire situation. She knew what her orders were, and she was going to follow them through.
Her directive had changed just a bit though. Upon finding out that the other operative (My wayward sister, she thought, then nearly laughed.) had found but failed to eliminate Jarod, Mr. Lyle and Mr. Cox jointly decided to send her after the two of them while still remaining with her own target.
Therefore, if everything went as planned, she would have eliminated not only one person but three. The prospect was rapturous to her.
She had also been made aware, though not necessarily through words, that the three people she was sitting with had been doing a little digging and had managed to stumble across Project Gemini and possibly had found out about her. If they had, they hadn’t given anything away in their mannerisms yet, but that, she had found, never really meant a whole lot anyway. People were remarkably good at controlling their reactions around other people, especially if they knew something they shouldn’t.
Lucky for her, she had an easy solution to all of this. She continued to pretend to read the file in front of her, while in reality she was allowing her mind to reach out toward the woman next to her. She gently allowed her mind to touch upon Parker’s, and all of the other woman’s thoughts and feelings came rushing into Ava’s head. It was rather disconcerting, but she loved it anyway. It was exhilarating.
She imagined herself in a white room and allowed all of the information to swirl around her. She began to reach out to random bits, the information projecting itself on the wall across from her. She continued to do this, quickly and adeptly sorting through the information, a mark of her excellent training, and picked out the important stuff. Her mental self grinned and it nearly translated to her physical self, but she had excellent self-control in this state and quickly tempered it before it could give her away. As it turned out, at the moment, Miss Parker thought that the twins mentioned in Project Gemini were really clones of herself, and she had no idea as to the real identity of either of them.
Ava let her mind relax and pulled away from Miss Parker’s. They would be landing shortly, and then everything would be put into motion. Her handler would be quite proud.
Andrea barely noticed that Jarod was still in the room and was still searching for information. She was completely engrossed in the information he had just printed out for her. There were several reports along with many memos regarding her and her sister, though there was only one picture of them when they were first brought in. The Centre had apparently not updated the photos in years, though she couldn’t understand why. However, when it came to The Centre, she never understood why the majority of the time.
Her eyes were attracted to a recent memo between Mr. Raines, her handler, and a man whom she could only assume was Ava’s handler. She quickly scanned it, part of it being nothing new to her. The first bit was about her own particular mission, the one she had put on hold for a few hours to find out more information about her sister. The second part, though, stunned her. Once again, she couldn’t understand the why.
She knew she needed to tell Jarod. This sort of thing simply couldn’t be left alone, but if she showed him the memo, she would surely blow her own cover. Even though she didn’t give a damn about the mission she had been assigned right now, she also knew that if he read what she had been assigned to do, he would probably kill her. Or at least make it very difficult for her to move for quite a while.
Nevertheless, she knew, and knew very well, that she needed to tell the man sitting not ten feet from her. It was vitally important to everybody that she did. She could only hope that she could keep him calm enough to deal with the situation rationally. She despised using her “powers,” as Mr. Lyle referred to them, but she also knew that sometimes there was no other choice.
This was, unfortunately, one of those times for her.
“Jarod?” she said lightly, turning toward him and preparing for one hell of a mental struggle. If he was as strong as Mr. Raines had made him out to be, this could be interesting.
“Yes?” he asked, and she realized that she had never told him her actual name. It was probably for the best at the moment.
“I found something here that-“
She was cut off by the slamming of car doors outside.
to be continued.
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